Monday, March 10, 2014

Stapleton Kearns Demo at Chelmsford Art Society

Stapleton Kearns is a New Hampshire painter well known to other local painters.  He was new to me because I'm new to New Hampshire.  Lots of my friends in the Nashua Breakfast Club recommended the demo, so I went on a VERY cold night almost a month ago and managed to snag a front row seat.

He's tall (I'd say 6'2" at least) and lanky and has a wicket wry sense of humor.
He also had a tall, lanky easel.  "Gloucester" style: which was new to me.  Apparently its big foot print makes it stable for plein air painting on rocky, uneven terrain.  Since the Chelmsford Art Center's floor was even and slippery, he needed wooden chucks to keep it from splaying.  Watching him assemble it and get his palette situated reminded me of the first times I used chop sticks.
He told us about his limited palette of primarily earth tones and mineral pigments.  He'd brought a sketch (in pencil) that he'd worked on while in a hotel), and LOOSELY transferred it to the canvas using ultramarine.  He likes to use "shadow" colors for his under painting, because if it doesn't get all covered up, it still looks like shadows. 

He didn't stand still much.  He was sort of a whirl wind.  I thought it was funny and sensible when he said he likes to paint snow scenes because he doesn't like painting "all that green" that shows up in spring and summer scenes.  He under-painted most of the snow with a purplish wash.
Then came some umbers, and siennas.

From his scribblings I had no idea what was going to be in the final picture... but the buildings emerged quickly.
And a mystery shape (which remained blue until almost the end) turned out to be a silo.
He gestured so enthusiastically while answering questions that he painted an audience member sitting next to me.  He assured her it would wash out if she was "quick".  She didn't seem to mind, much.
Nice contrasting values!
Then he brightened the snow with some yellows.

He pock marked the snow to make it more interesting.
He thought he might work on it more in his studio, but wasn't sure.  I liked his example of not being overly attached to any particular brush stroke or section of the painting.

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